[UPDATED w/ No Reinstatement] Osama Shabaik, Irvine 11 Member, Dropped From TEDxUCIrvine Conference; No Clear Reason Offered

Categories: School Daze
osamashabaik.jpg
Osama Shabaik
UPDATE FEB 29 8:40 A.M.: Despite a petition that has collected over 750 signatures, draft revisions and negotiations, organizers of this weekend's TEDxUCIrvine conference have decided against reinstating Osama Shabaik of the so-called "Irvine 11" as a scheduled speaker.

"We have unanimously decided as a TEDx team, with agreement from our professional speaker coach, a TED representative, and a PhD candidate on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that the current TEDx Talk which we are working with right now is not ready for our TEDx stage," Kamrin Klauschie says in a statement provided to the Weekly.

The licensee for the conference and International Studies major originally sought out Shabaik as a speaker late last year with the specific intent of the Irvine 11 protest being the subject matter. "This is a topic where there is much passion, controversy and misunderstanding, " she says, "so I know it would make for a powerful and compelling TEDx Talk if done right." [emphasis hers]

With that point of contention, Shabaik met with two of the organizers last week with his participation status as pending after initially being dropped. He says he was sent an email on Monday by them that deemed his planned speech as "too overtly political" and too long. When contacted by the Weekly yesterday evening for a response to TEDxUCIrivine's final decision, it was the first he had heard of it. "I actually have not been notified yet that I won't be participating," Shabaik said. The activist had told organizers that shortening his speech would not change its tone and disagrees with the characterization of it as "too political" citing a TED talk given by Julian Assange of Wikileaks.

"TEDx completely supports freedom of speech, however, our talks focus, in essentially their entirety, on a clear purposeful positive theme or idea and the talk we are working with now is not focusing on those guidelines," Klauschie says while mentioning the possibility of inviting Shabaik to be a part of next year's conference. To the contrary, the Irvine 11 member feels that his narrative and experience are being effectively marginalized outside of TED principles. Additionally, he wonders what would be so different about being invited next year as opposed to this weekend.

"I do not see why my talk is acceptable next year, but too politically charged for this year," Shabaik says. "Considering that my talk is an expression of my story, I do not expect history to rewrite itself to allow for my talk to be "right" as the organizers have suggested."

ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 20 5:35 P.M.: Osama Shabaik, one of the "Irvine 11," is still listed online as a speaker for an upcoming TEDxUCIrvine conference planned for March 3, but a change.org petition in circulation is asking for his reinstatement. The UCI graduate and Muslim Student Union activist, who was the first to protestor to speak out during Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech on the campus back on February 8, 2010, says that a student organizer phoned him on Saturday notifying that the invitation he had been initially extended was being taken back.

"I was given reasons as to how my talk didn't necessarily fit into what a TED talk was," Shabaik tells the Weekly. "What that means, I still don't understand. I think it would be best for the organizers themselves to answer that question."

Shabaik says he was initially contacted a few months ago through Facebook when a TEDxUCIrvine organizer reached out to him about being a speaker, noting that he first had to be vetted. He spoke of what he had gone through being an Irvine 11 protestor right through the two misdemeanor convictions Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackaukas levied at them and noted that he planned to center his talk around the issue as he accepted the invitation.

"I''m not Palestinian, but I was given the opportunity to visit the Gaza Strip after Operation Cast Lead, which was a military operation by Israel that led to the death of 1,400 Palestinians," Shabaik says. "I was going to start off with the story of what I experienced there and how that motivated me to protest when I found out Michael Oren was coming to campus." He was going to describe the emotional impact felt by students who had lost relatives in the violence and who described UCI as having rolled out the red carpet for the ambassador without mentioning his role in the operation likening it to a slap in the face. Shabaik characterized his speech-to-be as "keeping it real" and planned to be critical of UCI in not standing behind him and his fellow protestors. 

TED talks are centered around the stated spirit of "ideas worth spreading," and the lower-case "x" for the UCI conference denotes a local, self-organized event proclaiming to uphold that mission. Among the many listed participants is constitutional lawyer and Dean of UCI's Law School Erwin Chemerinsky. At the time of the Irvine 11 ordeal, Chemerinksy called the decision to prosecute the activists "harsh" but also publicly disapproved of their protest saying it wasn't a free speech right. "I've listened to TED talks for a long time and it seems like the purpose of TED is to allow for a free exchange of ideas regardless of whether or not people fully agree with them," Shabaik mentions. "In line with those values, I don't really see why I was let go."

In the petition circulating on his behalf, it's mentioned that initial pressure has nudged the conference organizers to revisit the decision and discuss the matter of whether or not the Irvine 11 protestor will have his place as confirmed speaker reinstated. The Weekly reached out to TEDxUCIrvine via its website for comment on this story, but at the time of this posting has yet to receive a response.

Should Shabaik be extended a re-invitation to participate, he says he would take up the offer once more as he had done before.

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19 comments
Masterbader
Masterbader

It looks like the MSU at UC Irvine think he is on par with Malik Ali and have invited him to speak on the campus this week. 

listen up
listen up

Thanks for the update.  

He should create his own event if he wants to speak on the campus.   I am sure he could get some of his buddies in the MSU to sponsor the event and they would be able to reserve a lecture hall.

TED is not the right venue for him to speak. 

Michelle Quinn
Michelle Quinn

Muslim Activist: What a shock! That is all the ever do is protest. The Irvine 7 were nothing but a bunch of wanabee terrorists and stupid misquided women who wear sheets to cover themsleves to elude being harmed by their muslim men. I think that Israel needs to stop letting the world tell them what to do and just kick the west bank back to jordan. Who the heck wants to live beside a population that oppresses its women, teaching their kids, using a terrorist Mickey Mouse (stupid but true) and produces nothing but war and terror. The muslims are the most intolerant bunch out their and the screaming at people to stop them speaking is just one of their tactics of intimidation. I hope they don't let this idiot speak, cause it will be just the same cr** of woe is us! 

listen up
listen up

I don't know what you are talking about in your post.   But he was a dopey college kid and thought by attempting to shut down the lecture he was fighting against oppression.  He wasn't a wanabee terrorist.   He is out of touch with reality and thinks that an Israeli official shouldn't be able to speak at a University or has lied to himself and thinks that the disruptions did not prevent Oren from being heard.        

listen up
listen up

How about running an article that will provide more information about the people who are going to speak at TEDxUCIrvine?

listen up
listen up

It would be pretty funny if he tried to speak and the audience all stood up and screamed at him.

Seriously, the people who scramed at Oren are not people I would want to hear speak. They went there to deny people the right to hear what Ambassodor had to say.  People may agree with Oren or disagree with Oren.  But everyone should agree that Oren should be allowed to speak at at University in California.

listen up
listen up

And no I would not support the audience shutting down his speech. 

If Abbas or Salam Fayyad were to give a talk at UC Irvine, I would be disgusted if a group of hardline Christians or Jews shouted him down.   It would be shameful for the University and the idiots who would do such a thing.  If someone did shout down a Palestinian leader while the leader was giving a talk at a University, that shouter should not be given a platform to speak at a TED event.

Dwight
Dwight

Would you be offended if Hitler came and spoke at your school and a bunch of Jewish "rabble-rousers/douchebags" who witnessed his atrocities stood up and interrupted him?

listen up
listen up

For years the MSU invited Malik Ali to speak on the UC Irvine campus.  Even though he openly supports three groups the UC State Department recognizes as terrorist organizations if the MSU invited him to speak in an auditorium at UC Irvine, I would be upset at students who opposed his views planned and then repeatedly disrupted his presentation. Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at Columbia University a few years ago.  If at that event Columbia students planned to repeatedly disruptted him and instructed all their friends to applaud after each disruption, I would be upset at those students. There are plenty of ways to show/voice you oppose a speaker's ideology without preventing others from hearing a presentation.       The students were wrong to prevent a speaker invited to the campus from speaking and being heard.  And the students acted inappropriately in coordinating this and in misrepresenting its involvement to University officials.   They were punished by the University and that should have been the end of it.   They shouldn’t be proud of what they did and people shouldn’t celebrate what they did.

They acted like a bunch of douche bags who couldn't handle an Israeli official giving a talk at what they considered their university.   

And for the record, I disagree with many policies of the current Israeli government because I think they are moving Israel away from the liberal democratic principles that Israel was founded on.  

Rafe H
Rafe H

The Irvine 11 were persecuted for refusing to quietly listen to a war criminal ambassador give a speech justifying his state's war crimes. 

And now for Mr Shabaik is censored for trying to talk about his persecution.

listen up
listen up

Not providing a loudspeaker is not censorship.  The guy can go and give a talk anytime he wants in any of the free speech areas of the UC Irvine campus.  

Richard_Pietrasz
Richard_Pietrasz

The Irvine 11 were actually protesting a crime.  Conspiracy to commit murder is not legally protected free speech, but that is exactly why Oren went to UCI.

listen up
listen up

They were not exercising protected rights of free speech.  They went there to act like 2 year olds and scream at someone whose views they disagree.   They weren't interested in an exchange of ideas.   Their emails exposed them.   They try to play up they are all high and mighty and their own emails showed their true intent.

I am a big fan of TED.   The "Irvine 11" are the complete opposite of what TED is all about.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Yeah, because everyone who heckles a speaker deserves criminal prosecution. Only if their Muslims who question the integrity of Michael Oren, I guess. Give me a break. Oh, by the way...how many of those teabaggers who made it virtually impossible for people to speak at town hall meetings (public forums) are facing criminal charges? My guess is 0. Funny how that worked out.

Slayerog
Slayerog

YA I guess its too much, I live in Virginia and I got caught with about 0.34 grams of weed at 15. Got sent to Juve for 2 1/2 months and I got 1 year probation, 2 years outpatient rehab and 2 years of phsych evaluation...I was only pothead rest were heroin, coke etc.I've seen dealers get ALOT less punishment than for my 1/3 of a joint.  Needless to say fcked up my high school life and I"ve been completely anti social since....Fck the system!Just realize Socialism, communism or whatever would make these situations even worse. To be honest the 11 are extremely lucky they aren't from the tea party.  You do know that your right to trial and all of that is now gone right? They coulda been permanent residents ><......please if you wanna fight for a cause back our fading constitution, they are constantly degrading our rights, they also hit Speech via internet and religion with control.The top 3 of the bill of rights are fading fast. With media in their hands too its just not right, that so many people have evil intent. What happened to a journalist, now they are scared to ask a good question, at least to Obama.

Slayerog
Slayerog

Tea party was so dang violent, I had to pray everytime they were mentioned.  Although they did go without public sewage, rape, murder, riots, and drug use....trespassing nah I guess the Occupy brainwashing has commenced....I hope you enjoy the world you are trying to create were there is only rich and poor...we all lose but soros and a few of the top class.  When the human race, not a class is now condemned to slavery. 

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Thank you...I'm glad we agree that the criminal prosecution was excessive. And you're right, folks who keep speeches from being heard are douchebags...but I really believe the Irvine 11 were slapped with criminal charges because they were on the "wrong" side of a political argument. I think if the scenario involved Tea Partiers the university's punishment would have been deemed more than sufficient. I smell a double standard.

listen up
listen up

I don't think they should have been criminally prosecuted.  But they were douchebags.  The punishment from the univesity should have ended it.   Do you think the university should have allowed them to shout down a speaker while the speaker was giving a lecture in a lecture hall?  

And there were 19 protesters arrested at UC Irvine around the same time as the Irvine 11 douchebags.  They weren't Muslims.

If Tea Party members prevent a speech from being heard, they are douchebags too. 

 

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